PART I. HISTORICAL: Andrew Puller, (1754-1815), a farmer's son, grew up in a hyper-Calvinist environment. After spiritual struggle he was converted,
"baptized, and joined the Soham Baptist Church. Theological controversy on sinful man's ability caused division in the Church, and the
Minister left. Puller, encouraged to preach, became the Minister in
1775. He began to regard the hyper-Calvinist position as unbiblical,
and examined its whole basis, probably reading Calvin. Robert Hall,
Senior, introduced Puller to the writings of Jonathan Edwards, but his
influence was less than is usually assumed
Puller moved to be Minister at Kettering in 1783. He found
congenial friends in Ryland, Sutcliff, and Carey. Through united
labours, theological, devotional, and practical, the Baptist Missionary Society was founded in 1792, with Puller the first Secretary.
Advocating the cause he travelled much, including five visits to Scotland, where he met Thomas Chalmers. Theological controversy with
Socinians, Deists, and Universalists, followed various writings of
Puller. Worn out by his labours he died at Kettering.
PART II. THEOLOGICAL: On settling at Kettering, Puller offered a Confession of Faith.
It makes a useful beginning for a comparison of Puller's theology with
that of Calvin. Its themes, developed in Puller's writings, are
similar to much in Calvin.
1. The existence of God is known to all through His works; the
nature of God as Triune is given in the Bible. 2. Revelation is a
free Divine activity, only truly known in Christ. 3. The dual
character of the Bible as inspired by God yet written by man is
recognised. k. Man, made in the Divine image, has lost his rectitude
by the Pall. Physical and psychological capacities work amiss. Though
man is impotent through sin, he is nevertheless accountable, and must
be called to repent. God's Spirit uses the preached invitations to
bring men to faith, which is the total response of mind, heart and
will. 5. Election, which is from eternity to eternity, is independent of foreknowledge; reprobation is the unhappy reverse. Puller
softens the latter by emphasis on the manifest cause in man's sin, over
against the hidden cause in God's counsel in Election. 6. Signs of
the Covenant Theology appear in the form of Puller's thought on the
everlasting covenant of grace, gradually made known, whose content,
though not its form of administration, is always the same. 7. Perseverance is the gift of God, not a supreme effort of man.
8. Calvin and Puller disagree completely on the mode and subject
of Baptism, but have some curious similarities on the nature of the
sacrament. Puller insists that Holy Communion is only for immersed
believers. 9. Eschatological expectations are similar in Calvin and
Puller, though Fuller has some temporal hopes associated with his view
of the Apocalypse. 10. At the Last Judgement, which the Second
Advent introduces, the cause of God is fully and finally vindicated.
Two conclusions: 1. Puller read widely in Calvin. 2. Puller's
claim to be a Calvinist after the pattern of John Calvin is entirely